If you feel a lump in your breast, try not to panic or worry. Most lumps aren’t breast cancer; most of them are something less serious like a benign cyst or growth called a fibroadenoma, especially in women under 40.
Some lumps will go away on their own. In younger women, lumps are often related to menstrual periods and will go away by the end of the cycle. Sometimes, lumps persist and are painful — and they can be removed by a surgeon if they’re causing pain or breast deformity.
Usually some imaging will be recommended if you have a lump in your breast, and if you’re younger than 40, sometimes this will only be an ultrasound.
Don’t ignore lumps in pregnancy or while you’re lactating. Some are benign masses associated with pregnancy and breastfeeding, but sometimes these masses can be cancer.
When to see your doctor
See your doctor if you have any of these warning signs of breast cancer:
- A lump, knot, or thickening inside the breast or underarm area that feels harder or different from the rest of the breast or the other breast
- Swelling, warmth, redness, or darkening of the breast
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Pulling in of the nipple or other parts of the breast
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- New pain in one spot that doesn't go away
Mammograms are recommended beginning at age 40
A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray that allows doctors called radiologists to look for changes in breast tissue. It’s the best way to check for breast cancer. Annual mammograms are recommended for women beginning at age 40. If you have a family history of breast cancer, screenings should start earlier — usually 10 years before your family member was diagnosed.
Getting an initial baseline mammogram helps radiologists better identify breast changes
It’s easier to detect breast cancer if you’ve had a normal mammogram first, so the radiologist can compare your mammograms from one year to the next and breast changes can be identified.
Check to see if your insurance will cover a mammogram at your age. If you have questions — or to schedule a mammogram at an Intermountain hospital in the Salt Lake Valley — call 801-507-7840 or request an appointment online.